14:49 PM

Teaching teachers to teach the Constitution

Missouri Bar collaborates on Street Law Workshop

In order to better equip teachers to explore issues involving the Constitution and the judiciary, The Missouri Bar’s Citizenship Education Department collaborated earlier this month with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, and the Judicial Learning Center of the Thomas Eagleton Courthouse to bring the Street Law Professional Development Workshop to St. Louis.

Teachers discuss best techniques for teaching the constitution at the February 2020 Street Law workshop in St. Louis.The workshop, held at the federal courthouse, brought together 36 high school teachers and provided them with classroom-ready materials as well as teaching strategies, including case studies, deliberation activities and moot court exercises.

“It is civic education at its best,” said Dr. Tony Simones, director of citizenship education for The Missouri Bar. “By exposing teachers to cutting-edge content and methodologies, we are ultimately training the next generation of citizens to appreciate, understand and analyze vital constitutional issues.”

Simones said participants were exposed to a number of cases currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, which involved issues including the application of the Civil Rights Act to sexual orientation and the limits imposed by the Second Amendment on gun-control legislation. Teachers also engaged in activities dealing with citizenship, the minimum wage and amendments that were proposed but never ratified.

Street Law, an organization devoted to making constitutional issues accessible to students, led the session. In addition, representatives of The Missouri Bar worked with the teachers on strategies for making their presentation of these issues consistent with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Social Studies Standards.

Program coordinators included Cathy Ruffing and Jen Wheeler from Street Law, Rachel Marshall of the U.S. District Court, and Simones, Becky Libbert and Russ Sackreiter of The Missouri Bar. Program participants also worked with Judges Shirley Padmore Mensah and Stephen Clark, Federal Public Defender Brocca Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming. Attendees also had lunch with former federal law clerks to gain additional insight on how the courts work.

The Missouri Bar's Citizenship Education program is aimed at providing ongoing civics education to all Missourians.